Recipes for Glorious, Succulent Chicken Thighs

Italian Sunshine Chicken

Wonderfully fast and easy, this flavourful chicken is light, healthy and somehow just bursting with Summer

6 chicken thighs, skin on but trimmed

Drop olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

3 fat cloves of garlic

1 good tsp. paprika

1 good tsp. turmeric

2 cinnamon sticks

3 fresh bay leaves or small bunch thyme

Half a small lemon

250ml dry vermouth

splash water

Oven 180c, gas 6

  • Ideally using a stove top to oven pan, brown the top side of the chicken thighs in a drop of olive oil on a brisk heat.  Remove and keep warm.

  • In the same pan, gently fry the onion with a pinch of salt until translucent and then grate in the garlic

  • Add the paprika and turmeric and stir around for a minute or so until fragrant.

  • Add the vermouth, bubble it up and return the chicken to the pan.

  • Tuck in the bay leaves or thyme, the half lemon cut in half again and the two cinnamon sticks.

  • Add a splash of water if you feel it needs it.

  • Cover and cook in the oven for about 40 minutes by which time the thighs when probed should read 74c.

 

 

I like this simply served with new potatoes and fine green beans, but this Italian Summer Chicken alsogoes well with my Roast Romano Peppers with Cherry Tomatoes, Yoghurt and Feta

Helpful Hint and Avoiding Stumbles

When browning chicken with skin, try to resist moving it.  The skin may stick to the pan at first and poking it about can pull it off, or tear it.  The chicken will naturally loosen itself from the pan after a minute or two.

Little bottles of spices tend to lose flavour after about a year, so give them the sniff test.  Cinnamon sticks are particularly susceptible to losing fragrance unfortunately. 

Small Title

Burnished Chicken Thighs with White Wine, Honey and Lemon

When cooking for parties with my lovely team we often served boneless quails (de-boned because plates full of bones are tedious when clearing away large numbers of guests' plates) and as a consequence of this I suppose, if I served these glossy de-boned treasures to friends, they were often mistaken for quails.  I seldom confessed the more mundane truth.  Obviously. 

I still prefer to snip out the thigh bone - it is easily done with small kitchen scissors - but there is, of course, absolutely no need to do so.

During the Summer months - or any time really - I like to serve most chicken dishes with a bowl of well seasoned thick Greek yoghurt with a little very finely grated garlic and lots of chopped mint or coriander stirred in.  The only other accompaniment necessary is a leafy salad. 

This recipe is an old and reliable friend I have used for years.  The skin

of the chicken blackens glossily as it cooks, but any that is loose and

excess needs to be snipped away before cooking to prevent the sauce

from becoming oily.

6 chicken thighs, with skin

1 small lemon

2 tbsps. soy sauce (I use low salt, gluten free Kikkoman Tamari)

3 tbsps. runny honey or maple syrup (the basic one is fine)

90ml white wine (or thereabouts)

2 fresh bay leaves and several sprigs of thyme (optional)

Pepper

Knob of butter

Oven 200c, gas no.6, pre-heated

  • Trim the loose and excess skin from the thighs, but leave a

      decent amount on the top of each one.  Snip out the thigh

      bone if you wish

  • Fit the thighs fairly snugly into a small roasting pan

  • In a bowl, mix together the juice of the small lemon (save the shell), soy sauce, honey or maple syrup and white wine

  • Pour the sauce mixture over the thighs making sure the skin are coated but not submerged

  • Tuck in the lemon shells and herbs, if using

  • Season, but remember the saltiness of the soy

  • Roast in the oven approx. 30 minutes, then baste with the juices and return to the oven for a further 10-15 minutes, by which time the thighs should probe 74c and have become burnished brown and glossy

  • Remove the thighs from the sauce and keep warm

  • Add a knob of butter to the sauce just before serving to give it a shine and thicken it slightly.

Chinatown Honey Soy Chicken

My Chinatown Chicken recipe was originally inspired by Jill Dupleix's Honey Soy Quail from her marvellous book, Simple Cooking, but over the years I have adapted the recipe somewhat and I use chicken thighs because they are so much more available (plus see my comment above). 

 

The thighs turn mahogany brown whilst cooking and their exotic flavour will whisk you straight to the Orient, no long haul involved. 

6 chicken thighs, skin on

Marinade:

2 tbsps. soy sauce (I use low salt, gluten free Kikkoman Tamari)

1 tbsp. runny honey or maple syrup

1 tbsp. seedy sweet chilli sauce

2 good  tsps. Chinese 5 spice powder

2 tbsps. sesame oil

Sesame seeds and perhaps more sweet chilli sauce to serve

Oven 200c, gas 6, pre-heated

  • Trim away any excess chicken skin, leaving plenty on the top of the thighs.  Snip out the bone with kitchen scissors if you wish

  • Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a bowl

  • Submerge the thighs in the mixture and leave to marinate for an hour or more, best of all over night.

  • Fit the thighs fairly snugly in a small roasting pan and pour over the marinade, making sure that the skin on top is exposed

  • Roast 30 minute, then baste with the juices

  • Return to the oven for a further 10-15 minutes by which time the thighs should be burnished brown and probe 75c.

  • Spoon a little of the sauce over each thigh and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Chinatown Chicken is good served on Shredded Mange Tout, again the idea belongs to Jill Dupleix, although she serves hers raw and I like them lightly cooked which brings alive their lovely colour.

  • Wash, top and tail the mange tout then shred length ways into long matchsticks.  Drop into salted boiling water, return to the boil (which should only take a moment) and drain immediately.  Drizzle in a teaspoon of sesame oil to give them shine and a sprinkle of sesame seeds adds to the oriental feel.

Helpful Hints and Avoiding Stumbles

Fitting the thighs fairly snugly into the roasting pan keeps them in perky shape whilst cooking rather than spreading languorously like someone fat on a sofa.

 

If the thighs haven't browned enough, remove them from the sauce and flash under the grill for a moment; better still, use a blowtorch.

 

If the thighs have blackened too much - they will still be delicious - dip the tip of a pastry brush into olive oil and lightly dab the skin to give extra shine.  A drizzle of olive oil is, after all, very cheffy.

 

A drizzle of seasoned yoghurt swirled about the thighs always looks good, but doesn't fit in with the oriental feel of Chinatown chicken perhaps.

 

Sauces generally can be mellowed by adding a little redcurrant jelly and corrected if too sweet by adding lemon juice.  A knob of butter stirred into the sauce just before serving gives shine and smooths the flavour.  There are few sauces which are not improved by a drop of sweet chilli sauce, alternatively you can add piquancy with a drop or two (carefully does it) of tabasco  Please don't underestimate how much salt contributes to good flavour during cooking.  Salt added at the end just tastes of salt.  

Quick Thai Chicken with Tomato Chilli Jam

I love this Thai chicken because it could hardly be quicker and easier to do, smells and tastes wonderful and looks irresistibly glossy with lovely dark crusty bits. 

 

It's best with the Chilli Jam which is also speedy, can be prepared in advance and will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks.

6 skinless boneless chicken thigh fillets

Marinade:

2 tbsps. sesame oil

1 tbsp. maple syrup

1 tbsp. Thai fish sauce

Half tsp. chilli paste (from a tube)

4 cloves garlic, crushed

Handful fresh coriander, chopped

  • Trim any nasty bits away from the thigh fillets and carefully bash any thick parts with something heavy to flatten the thighs out a bit

  • Put all the marinade ingredients into a bowl and mix together 

  • Add the chicken to the marinade and push it around a bit so that it's well covered.  Leave to marinate, preferably over night, but even an hour would be fine.

  • Heat a grill pan or frying pan and cook for 5 minutes or so each side until it is cooked through; the chicken will be beginning to shine and char.

Tomato Chilli Jam

4-5 large tomatoes

Half tsp. chilli paste (from a tube, use more if you wish)

Approx. 4 cm piece of root ginger, roughly chopped or grated

3 fat cloves of garlic

Half a tbsp. of Thai fish sauce

2 tbsps. soft brown sugar

Glug of cider vinegar

  • Remove the tough stalk and roughly chop the tomatoes

  • Using a hand stick blender or food processor, whizz everything to a puree

  • Transfer to a saucepan and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring every now and then, until it becomes a thick puree.  It will thicken further as it cools.

Helpful Hints and Avoiding Stumbles

Although I refer to garlic being crushed, in fact I usually grate garlic into a sauce using a medium microplane.

We are often told to use a teaspoon to peel ginger, but for me a potato peeler is far less of a fiddle.  Cut off any knobbly bits and deal with them separately.  Microplane the ginger too.

The chicken is good hot, at room temperature or cold, but always with the chilli jam.

Small pieces of this chicken make good canapés.  Pierce with a cocktail stick and use the chilli jam as a dip, or sweet chilli sauce to dip is good too.

The chicken is best freshly cooked rather than re-heated.

1 onion, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsps. grated fresh ginger

1 tbsp. brown sugar

2 tbsps. low salt soy sauce

6 chicken thighs, excess skin trimmed

Quick Oriental Ginger, Lemon and Garlic Chicken

If you want something you to prepare 

in advance to reduce stress levels, this is it!  Get ahead with marinating the chicken early in the day -  or even the day before - and all you have to do is open the oven door and slip it in for 35 minutes or so.  Serve with rice and a green salad.

Oven 200c, gas 6,  pre-heated

  • Gently soften the onion in a little oil with a pinch of salt

  • Stir the garlic into the onions and immediately transfer to a bowl

  • Add all the other ingredients apart from the chicken.  Stir this marinade to combine.

  • Put the chicken thighs in a snugly fitting oven to table dish and pour over the marinade. Squish the chicken around a bit to ensure it is well covered.

  • Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least an hour or two, but preferably over night.

  • Remove from the fridge about an hour before cooking to allow it to come to room temperature.

  • Cook for 35 minutes or so by which time the chicken should be cooked through and probe 74c.

Helpful Hints and Avoiding Stumbles

Adding salt when cooking onions prevents them from catching or cooking too quickly.

Although I refer to the garlic as crushed, my life has been transformed by having a good quality grater, so I now grate it in, which is so much less of a faff.

Ginger and Paprika Chicken Thigh Fillets

6 boneless skinless chicken thigh fillets

Marinade:

2 tbsps. olive oil

2 tbsps. low salt soy sauce, I use Kikkoman Tamari

1 tbsp. fresh lime juice

1 good tsp. ground cumin

2 tsps. paprika

Good glug seedy sweet chilli dipping sauce

Generous large fat thumb of root ginger, peeled and grated

1tsp. red chilli paste (from a tube)

To serve:seasoned Greek yoghurt (full fat), add a squeeze of lime juice if you have it and well sprinkled with paprika 

Perhaps not much of a looker (although not bad), but goodness this Ginger and Paprika Chicken packs a wonderful flavour punch. 

 

My hand is usually quite heavy on the ginger because it becomes caramelised, indeed it catches and crusts in a way I find irresistible. 

 

The chicken is great hot, of course, but it is also good at room temperature and lovely cold with plenty of the yoghurt.

I understand all the dishes on Masterchef are at room temperature when they are judged and of course it is true, any main course has probably dropped to room temperature by the time you finish eating it.  

Get artful with drizzling the yoghurt and this dish is beautiful in every way.

  • Use kitchen scissors to trim away fat or nasty bits and flatten any very thick pieces by bashing (with care) using something heavy.

  • Put the marinade ingredients into a bowl and stir together

  • Add the chicken to the marinade making sure every bit is well covered.  Leave to marinate for at least an hour, but preferably over night.

  • Remove the chicken from the marinade but do not shake off the tasty paste

  • Heat a griddle pan (or a frying pan) and cook for 5 or 6 minutes each side, pressing down with a fish slice if necessary.  The thigh should probe 74c when cooked.

  • Cover the pan with foil and a tea towel and leave to rest for 5 minutes or so.

  • Season the  yoghurt, swirl the sweet chilli dipping sauce through it (stop stirring before it is completely combined because the swirls look pretty) and sprinkle with paprika to serve.

Helpful Hints and Avoiding Stumbles

You can of course use chicken breast for this, but be careful, breast becomes dry so much more easily than thigh.

Snipping the thigh flesh with scissors on both sides prevents curling, but this is only necessary if the thighs are particularly large.

This looks lovely on a large platter drizzled with the yoghurt and paprika.  If you wish to add something green, flat leaf parsley or coriander for example, try to keep your knife away, herbs like this look much more 21st century strewn whole, complete with stalks.

This is excellent on a barbecue.

The chicken will freeze, but is at its best freshly cooked.  It will keep for up to 3 days in the fridge after cooking.

Fast Chicken Tikka

Chicken Tikka in one form or another is enormously popular and it's easy to see why this recipe hits the spot because it's pretty much as effortless to prepare as it could be. 

 

There are, of course, quite a few ingredients, but provided you have the spices in stock and are efficient enough to keep them all together (I'm not), then this can be put together in a flash. 

 

I particularly like things that can be prepared early in the day and need minimum attention at the time when I prefer to relax with something cold, preferably with ice.

Allow the chicken to marinate for at least two hours if you can, better still over night.  The chicken may be cooked in a griddle pan, frying pan, on a barbecue or in a hot oven.

Marinade:

150g full fat plain yoghurt

1 large tbsp. root ginger, grated

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp. paprika

Half tsp. cayenne

1 large tsp. garam masala

2cm squeeze tomato puree (or from a jar)

Juice of half a lemon or lime

1 tbsp. oil

8 boneless skinless chicken thigh fillets, trimmed

  • Put all the ingredients apart from the chicken into a large bowl and stir together to combine.

  • Halve the chicken thigh fillets and add them to the marinade making sure they are well covered.  Leave to absorb the flavours for as long as possible.

  • Remove the chicken from the marinade and cook in a griddle pan or frying pan for 5 minutes each side.  They will probe 74c when cooked.  The chicken may also be cooked in a hot oven.

  • Serve a simple Mint and Yoghurt Chutney - just add chopped fresh mint, seasoning and a squeeze of lemon juice to thick natural yoghurt.

Helpful Hints and Avoiding Stumbles

I have kept the amount of cayenne small, but increase it if you prefer more heat.  Add more coriander to cool it down.

I really don't like u sing a straightforward grill for this (and many other things) because I find it gets spattered with fat bursting out from whatever is being grilled at the time, creating smoke.  Anyway, everyone loves the stripes created by a good griddle pan.

If cooking the Chicken Tikka in the oven, check to see if the chicke is cooked after 20 minutes.  Remember it should probe 74c.

The convention is to thread Chicken Tikka onto skewers, but this feels like an unnecessary job to me, unless of course the chicken is to be barbecued.  Also, if you need portion control, skewers are useful.

The colour of this Chicken Tikka is not the bright orange/red one often see illustrated, usually created by food dye.

Dijon Crusted Chicken Thighs with a Vermouth Creme Fraiche Sauce

I never ever get bored of lovely moist chicken thighs, succulent enough to tolerate lack of attention, neglect even, and much less expensive than chicken breasts; what's not to love?

The soft Dijon coating is milder in flavour than expected and a lovely foil for the Vermouth sauce.

1 onion, finely chopped

2 tbsps. olive oil

1 fat clove garlic

8 chicken thighs, bone in, excess skin trimmed away

100g Dijon mustard

100ml dry Vermouth

200ml full fat creme fraiche

1 tsp. paprika

Black pepper

squeeze lemon juice 

small knob of butter

Oven 190c

  • Put 1 tbsp. of the oil into a small saucepan with the chopped onion and fry gently with a pinch of salt (to stop the onion sticking) until translucent and soft.

  • Grate in the garlic and stir to combine.  Now tip the onion and garlic into a roasting pan in which the chicken thighs can fit snugly in a single layer.

  • Put the chicken thighs, skin side up, on top of the onions and garlic.

  • Stir the remaining tbsp. of olive oil into the Dijon mustard and spread this mustard mixture all over the thighs.  

.

  • Season with black pepper (the mustard is salty)

  • Being careful not to interfere with the mustard topping, add the vermouth and bake uncovered in the oven 190c for approximately 45 minutes by which time the chicken should be thoroughly cooked.

  • Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a serving dish, cover and keep warm.

  • Bring the winey chicken juices up to boiling and bubble to reduce at least to half its original volume, this should take about 5 minutes.

  • Add the creme fraiche, stir in the paprika and bubble to reduce again, ideally to a coating consistency, but don't stress about this, just reduce to a consistency you like.  Taste, season if necessary and add a squeeze of lemon juice to brighten the flavour.

  • When you are ready to serve, re-heat the sauce in the pan, whisk in the knob of butter to make the sauce shine and pour around the chicken.  

Helpful Hints and Avoiding Stumbles

Trim the chicken skin fairly severely to prevent it making your sauce oily

If the chicken is very tightly packed in the roasting tin, the time it takes to cook (particularly those thighs in the middle of the tin) could be affected.  Always check chicken is thoroughly cooked.

 

If preparing this ahead, keep the chicken and sauce separate until the chicken is served. 

Cinnamon and Paprika Chicken Thighs with a Pine Kernel and Sesame Crust

This is one of those quick to cook conveniently obliging dishes which can be prepared ahead so that it sits quietly gathering flavour in the fridge then all it needs is six minutes per side in the pan and you have something delectable

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed

1.5 tsps. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. ground paprika

2 fat cloves garlic

2 tbsps. olive oil

15g pine kernels

10g sesame seeds

small handful parsley, chopped

1 tbsp. pain yoghurt let down with 1 tbsp. water

  • Put the cinnamon, paprika and olive oil in a bowl large enough to fit the chicken and grate in the garlic.  Stir it around.

  • Add the chicken, stir around again so that every bit of the chicken is covered with the spices, cover and leave to marinate in the fridge.  It should sit here quite happily for at least two days.

  • Remove from fridge and dip in the seeds, then cook in a frying pan or grill pan, top (presentation) side down first, for 6 minutes each side or until cooked through.

  • Serve drizzled with a spoonful of plain yoghurt diluted with a little water if it seems very thick